Melbourne recruit Will Genia has put his love of Queensland aside to steer his new Super Rugby side to a 45-19 demolition of the Reds in their opening match.
Much was made during the pre-season about the influx of Western Force talent from the axed club but Friday night's performance by the Test halfback at AAMI Park showed the importance of his signing.
Genia played nine seasons with the Reds before a two-year stint in France and he wanted to return home but with the Queensland books full, the Rebels pounced.
Despite playing his first game since November after suffering a back fracture, Genia's pinpoint passing and kicking helped set up most of their seven-try haul.
It was the most points the Rebels had ever scored in a Super Rugby match.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels says the 88-Test veteran set the standards on the field and at training.
"I'm pleased he's playing for us and not for them."
With so many fresh faces, the Rebels looked like they were meeting for the first time, with errors marring their game early but they started to build some promising cohesion.
With the Rebels only winning once in 2017, Wessels says getting the win was important for the team to reinforce the belief.
"To start the first game of the year with a new group and win it with the most number of points ever scored it's something to celebrate. But most of our conversation in the dressing room was about how much we need to improve.
"We need to enjoy the win but we also realise the performance wasn't perfect."
The season couldn't have started worse for Queensland - also with a new coach in former All Black and Brisbane NRL great Brad Thorn. Their skipper Scott Higginbotham was sent off in the ninth minute for a shoulder charge on Matt Phillip.
While the Reds were first on the scoreboard through centre Duncan Paia'aua, they suffered another huge blow in the 22nd minute when lock Lukhan Tui was yellow- carded for a dangerous tackle.
While they managed a try to Samu Kerevi in his absence, the Rebels scored three against the 13-man defence, with winger Sefa Naivalu crossing twice.
Wallabies fullback Dane Haylett-Petty then heaped more misery with a 38th minute try for a 26-14 halftime lead.
He added another in the second while five-eighth Jack Debreczeni also finished with a double.
Thorn says the cards were difficult to come back from.
"Not much went our way but I took a lot from it," he said.
"I loved the fight from the guys and the way they kept competing. It was a lot to take on for the young guys."